At least 1,000 EU citizens are still missing in Nepal, six days after an earthquake that killed more than 6,000 people struck the country, officials say.
Most of them are thought to have been trekking in the Everest or remote Langtang regions. Many are hoped to be alive but isolated by the quake.
The fate of thousands of Nepalese in remote communities is also unknown.
Nepal has called for more foreign help and humanitarian aid, admitting it was ill-prepared for the disaster.
The Nepalese authorities say the death toll from April 25 quake could rise to 10,000.
Nearly 14,000 people were injured in the disaster. Relief and rescue teams have reached most areas but many people remain in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
The 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck during peak trekking season in a country popular with mountaineers. Twelve EU citizens are known to have died so far. Some of them were killed by avalanches, triggered by the quake, that struck base camp below Mount Everest.
The EU envoy to Nepal, Rensje Teerink, said the authorities did not know the whereabouts of some 1,000 other EU citizens.
“They are missing but we don’t know what their status is,” she told reporters in the capital, Kathmandu.
Another EU official, speaking to the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity, said most of the missing were likely to be found safe.
Many backpackers do not register with their embassies in Nepal, which has made it harder to trace them, Reuters reported.
About half of expedition teams at Everest base camp are descending amid uncertainty over this year’s climbing season, after 16 guides were killed in an avalanche.
A row over local guides’ share of revenue from foreign climbers erupted after last week’s deadly accident, prompting some to threaten a boycott.
Sherpas also want better rescue and treatment facilities for guides.
If others descend, some fear it could effectively end plans to climb the world’s highest mountain this year.
Madhusudan Burlakoti, a tourism ministry official, hoped that some teams might still climb. Sherpas have been in talks over these issues with the Nepalese government.
More than 300 foreigners were preparing to climb Everest this year, but the tense aftermath of the avalanche that killed 13 Sherpas and left 3 missing presumed dead dashed hopes and left many climbers disturbed and shocked.
About 50 expedition teams had been at the base camp, with 31 intended for Everest.
About half of expedition teams at Everest base camp are descending amid uncertainty over this year’s climbing season
Some of the teams have chosen to go on trekking expeditions instead, while others are still waiting and watching.
The Nepalese government has assured teams that their climbing permits will remain valid for the next five years.
Last Friday’s avalanche was the single deadliest accident in modern mountaineering on the world’s highest peak.
It struck an area just above Everest base camp at 5,800m (19,000ft).
Sherpas can earn up to $8,000 in the three-month Everest climbing season – more than 10 times the average wage in Nepal, which remains one of Asia’s poorest nations.
However, it does not look so good when the government is earning millions of dollars each year in fees for climbing permits. Some guiding companies charge up to $60,000 per person.
The guides who lost their lives had climbed up the slope early in the morning to fix ropes for climbers and prepare the route.
The avalanche struck a passage called the Khumbu Icefall, which is riddled with crevasses and ice boulders that can break free without warning.
Although relatively low on the mountain, it is one of its most dangerous points – but there are no safer paths along the famous South Col route first scaled by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953.
Sherpas often make 20-25 round trips to carry kit and supplies to advanced camps, exposing themselves to greater risk.
Everest has been scaled by more than 3,000 climbers since 1953.
At least six Sherpa guides are reported to have been killed after an avalanche on the slopes of Mount Everest.
The avalanche struck around 06:45 local time in an area known as the “popcorn field”, just above Everest base camp at an elevation of 19,000ft.
An official said four bodies had been found and two more were being dug out of the snow.
At least six Sherpa guides are reported to have been killed after an avalanche on the slopes of Mount Everest
Everest is crowded ahead of peak season on the 8,850 m summit.
The Sherpa guides had climbed up the slope early in the morning to fix ropes for climbers and prepare the route for mountaineers when the avalanche hit, officials are quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.
A number of others are thought to be missing.
More than 3,000 people have scaled Mount Everest since it was first conquered by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953, but many have died in the attempt too.
Straddling Nepal and China, the world’s highest mountain has an altitude of 29,029ft (8,848 m).
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